Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer
  • .: Welcome to my blog :.

    I'm John R. "Buck" Surdu. I have two Web pages that contain relatively static information about my professional life (including papers I've written) and my hobby life (including information about rules I've written and my wargaming projects). This blog is where I plan to post personal tidbits, like vacation pictures, wargaming projects, etc. Enjoy!
  • Sally Forth Jousting Barriers

    Posted By on September 17, 2019

    I was gone most of the weekend, but my daughter helped finish these jousting barriers while I was gone.

    I got a copy of the jousting rules used by Brian De Witt to run his jousting game in the HAWKs Battle in a Box contest.  I finished printing and cutting up the cards and lining out the board (not used in these pictures).  I plan to bring this game to Barrage in case we have an overflow of people.


    Italian Renaissance Figures

    Posted By on September 9, 2019

    This was a rare weekend at home in which I was able to play games AND paint figures.  Given the amount of travel I have had to do for work, it was fun to focus a fair amount of the weekend to my hobby.  I have had a pack of figures from Eureka that are Italian Renaissance duelists and assorted bystanders.  I like the figures, but frankly, the sheer riot of color for the Italian Renaissance had me continue to push this project deeper and deeper into the queue.  I didn’t want to start this project and then have it languish on the painting table for weeks or months.

    The figures had enough relief on them that they were easy to paint.

    These were fun to paint, because I was completely unconstrained on which colors I could use.

    I will use these with Blood and Swash.  It will essentially be the same as my pirate tavern games, but with different figures.

    ACP 164 Vehicles

    Posted By on September 4, 2019

    I was involved with the Albedo Miniatures Kickstarter.  I adapted Combat Patrol for the Albedo universe.  I also bought into the Kickstarter to get some of the figures and vehicles.  The figures are really nice and will work by themselves or mixed in with other science fiction figures and games.  I am working short days this week, so yesterday afternoon I painted two vehicles and an aircraft that I had prepped and partially assembled two days ago.

    An Albedo fire support vehicle and APC

    The fires support vehicle comes with a more traditional gun, but somehow during prep, I accidentally threw out the barrel, and it was trash day, so by the time I realized it, my barrel was on the way to the landfill.  So, I replaced it with a “Tesla gun” from Company B miniatures.  I am going to have to order another couple of packs of those barrels.  They have come in hand recently.

    The LARC

    I really like this aircraft.  In fact, I have ordered two more of the kit with more optional variants.  I had a little trouble figuring out how to attach all the various weapons, and had to refer to pictures online, but I love this kit!  I plan to use this both for Albedo and for other science fiction games.

    At Historicon I purchased a giant gorilla from Eureka Miniatures.   Two weeks ago, when I opened up the packaging, I discovered that the gorilla’s left arm was missing.  Rob put one in the mail right away, and it arrived before I returned from my long business trip.  So, I painted it while I was painting my Hawaiians.

    Eureka giant gorilla and giant crab from Reaper Bones MCMDLXMI (or whatever they are up to)

    Eureka Polynesians

    Posted By on September 3, 2019

    Polynesian civilians from Eureka Miniatures

    Several years ago, Eureka Miniatures had a line of Polynesian (Hawaiian) figures.  I have been kicking myself for years for not ordering them, because they went out of production.  Recently a new line came into production, and I ordered two sets of them.  (I also ordered four canoes [which are still out of production], but that is for another post.)  Having returned from ten days on the road and a lot of long days for work recently, I decide that I would knock these out.

    Hawaiians vs. Captain Cooke’s men

    We returned from a recent vacation in Hawaii, and I was in the mood.  I REALLY like these figures.  My plan is to run a small skirmish game involving angry Hawaiian’s and Captain Cooke’s men during his second landing on Hawaii, when he was killed.  As can be send in the picture (above), my plan is to use my Old Glory French and Indian War British for Captain Cooke’s troops.

    Hawaiian spearmen face British soldiers

    They are very nice figures, with nearly no filing needed.  I like the way they turned out.  Being predominantly skin, after base spraying them brown and hitting them with Agrax Earthshade, they were nearly complete.  I just had to paint in the details.

    Polynesians fighting each other

    I know the popular myth is that the natives were happy and peaceful until Europeans arrived — whether we are talking about North America, Hawaii, or South America.  The truth is that these were violent cultures at war with each other for dominance.  (I highly recommend Mayflower, if you haven’t read it, and the truth about King Philip’s War.)  On the plane to Hawaii, my wife read some stories to me about ancient Hawaii, and the violence and barbarity is amazing.  The infighting didn’t really stop until, armed with European-provided muskets and gunpowder, King Kamehameha, conquered the islands under threat of extermination for those who didn’t pledge allegiance to him.  So, I think it is also fair to have a skirmish game in which Polynesians are fighting each other.

    I don’t know when they will get on the table, but they are painted, boxed, and ready for action.

    Some Miscellaneous Figures

    Posted By on September 3, 2019

    An armored rider on an armored mount — very historical.

    I was gone for work the past two weekends.  in fact by the time I returned on Sunday night, I had already worked over 80 hours this two week pay period — and still had five days left.  I did manage, two weeks ago, however, to get a few things painted.  I had the Conquistador figure (above) painted for quite some time, but I was looking for just the right mount.  I found this spiky turtle creature in a bin at Historicon last month, and it called to me.

    Several weeks ago, I scored some old Archive space dwarves on Ebay, and I had a chance to paint them up.

    Space Dwarf Pirates from Archive Miniatures

    More space dwarves from Archive

    I had piggy backed on an order by Chris for Reaper Bones MCMDXLII for some snake men, a giant alligator, and a few other odds and end.  I managed to paint the alligator before disappearing for ten days.

    Reaper Bones alligator

    Finally, many months ago, when I ordered some Warlord bren carriers to get the crews (see previous post on this topic), they came with a kit to make some smoke markers.  Mark’s recent post about making smoke markers for What a Tanker reminded me that I had this in the to-do box.  While watching on TV with CINC domicile, I put them together.

    Smoke markers from Warlord.

    Science Fiction Armored Cars

    Posted By on August 20, 2019

    Two armored cars. The top right is how the armored car looked (minus the mediocre paint job) before I started messing with them. The bottom left has a Tesla cannon.

    At Historicon I purchased four armored cars that look like they came from bags of green army men.  I bought these for a dollar or two each with the idea of using them in my science fiction Combat Patrol games.  First I disassembled them and painted them.  The barrel (top right of figure above) is how they came, but they were separate pieces, so they were easily removed and replaced.

    Two more armored cars with Tesla guns (or something)

    I ordered two packs of Tesla guns from Company B miniatures.  They arrived very quickly.  Each pack has three different guns.  I put one type on the vehicle in the first picture and the same type on the two vehicles in the lower picture.  I was really only home for a day and a half from being on the road, so I didn’t do a lot of weathering.  Still, these are game table good enough.  I will look for some stowage items to add to them to give them a little more character.   I see these as “space Stuarts:” fast, light, okay gun, and armored with tin foil.  They will make good scout cars.

    Science fiction troopers

    I also painted a couple of science fiction figures I found in my box of stuff to paint.  (I try not to buy figures at a convention unless I paint the figures I bought at the last convention, so my unpainted lead collection stays pretty low — probably in the 4th or 5th percentile of gamers.)  The figure in the middle is one of the Aliens colonial marines from Woodbine that I painted a couple of years ago.  I don’t know the manufacturer of the new figures, but their armor, uniforms, and cameras on the sides of their heads are an exact match, so they may be Woodbine as well.  I like the robotic machine-gun a lot!

    Each year I have been running a New Year’s Eve game for the HAWKs.  We start about 1500 and run until a little after midnight.  This gives me plenty of beauty sleep and allows those inclined to find wilder parties for the rest of the night.  This may be our last year hosting the New Year’s Eve gala.  I am thinking of running a 6′ x 20′ science fiction Combat Patrol(TM) game as one of the two main events.  I have been collecting and painting science fiction figures for several years, and I need to get them on the table.

    More Cars for Mad Maximillian

    Posted By on August 19, 2019

    I have compared Gasland and Mad Maximillian for armed car racing.  I like Mad Maximillian better; although, the rules writing is somewhat cryptic.  I have all the Eureka Mad Max cars painted up, and I ran the game at a club night some months ago.  I need to try to run it again one of these days.

    Right before Historicon, I ordered the set of jalopies from First Corps.  I really like them.  They didn’t come with weapons, so I had to add some.  For some reason, the tan piece of board I used to take these photos goofed up the white balance, so you don’t get to see the right colors, but they look okay anyway.

    The monocycle from First Corps

    This car is copper colored. I swapped out the head with a Hydra Valkyrie head.

    Two more jalopies

    Three motorcycles, including one being ridden by a nun

    I hope to run a game with these and my other cars soon.  I think I have enough now for each player to have two cars.

    Ragged Old Flag

    Posted By on August 17, 2019

    Someone sent me a shortened version of this video recently.  I found the longer version on YouTube.  I think this is worth watching.

    Blood and Sand

    Posted By on August 11, 2019

    In my copious free time, I’ve continued to think a bit about gladiator rules.  There are some nice sets of rules already on the market, and I don’t see this as a commercial project.  I am looking for something quick and easy for one-off games.  Greg has been looking at distinguishing special abilities to make the various types of gladiators seem different.  The working title of these rules is Blood and Sand.

    I am pretty sure the game will be run on a hexagon grid to make it abundantly clear the gladiator’s facing.  The discerning gamer who already knows the unbounded joy of Blood and Swash, will find some of the mechanics very similar.

    Above is a sample, working draft of a “character” card for a gladiator.  Note that gladiators can attack into their front three hexes.  When a player rolls up the gladiator’s attributes, one of the attributes is Attack.  That goes in the hex with the dark border.  The other two hexes have the Attack number modified as shown in the leftmost card.  Similarly, for defense, the dark hex contains the Defend attribute, and Defend is modified ginghams around the figure as shown on the right two cards.

    Each class of gladiator (heavy, medium, and light) will have a different chart for rolling up attributes.

    Attribute generation chart (DRAFT) for heavy gladiators, such as Murmillo, Secutor, and Thraex. These are the more armored gladiators with large shields.


    Attribute generation table (DRAFT) for light gladiators, such as Scissor, Sagittarius, Retiarius, Laquearius, and Dimachaerus. These are gladiators who carried now shields.

    Gladiators were most frequently grouped by class (e.g., heavy vs. heavy) to provide the most even, balanced, and entertaining match (sort of like the forced mediocrity created by the draft system in professional sports).  I’m not exactly sure how that will work in the game.  Greg is working on the scenarios and matchup.  Like recent sets of rules like Jugula and Sons of Mars, Greg has the idea that a player will have a stable (ludus) of gladiators and select the right one for the upcoming match.  I’m sure that will appeal to many gamers, but for me, I am looking for some quick games to fill and hour, not a campaign where I have to manage resources.  That sounds like work, not play.  Also, while the head of a ludus sounds interesting as a gaming mechanism, apparently they were considered about the same as pimps or flesh peddlers in their day.

    Three Foundry gladiators

    I have created a “middleweight” gladiator class that doesn’t seem to have existed formally.  Gladiators in this class include the Provocator and Hoplomachus.  These are armored like heavy gladiators but carry a much smaller shield.

    Two Foundry gladiators and a Bad Squiddo shield maiden I plan to use as a gladiatrix.

    Greg is also researching special abilities for the gladiator types within a class to distinguish them from each other.  Where Sons of Mars has a lot of special abilities, many of those are already taken into account in the attribute generation tables.  We are looking for things more like a foot sweep tripping attack, and shield bash (using your shield as a weapon), etc.  More to come on that.

    Two more Foundry gladiators

    You may note a Speed attribute on the character cards.  I envision two uses for this attribute.  First, it is the number of hexes a figure may move when it activates.  The second use will be to determine the activation sequence.  Instead of cards, I am thinking that at the beginning of each turn, players will roll d20 for each figure and add that figure’s Speed number.  The highest resulting number goes first and then on down the line.  I would like to do a d6, because that will make the Speed attribute more important than when rolling a d20, but I am worried about too many collisions requiring a “roll off.”

    Two Foundry gladiators and an attacking lion

    So that’s where I am today.  I am waiting for my sand-colored hex-grid cloth to arrive so that I can do the first play test.  Also, Greg is still working on the special abilities.  Stay tuned for more information as the concept matures.  I am hoping to have the cloth and be ready to run a game at Barrage, 27-28 September.

    The gladiatorial arena of Surdu-kahn. Tickets go on sale soon.

    The Deep Ones are Coming!

    Posted By on August 11, 2019

    Pulp Figures deep ones from their Cthulu range with some German WWII weapons added.

    At Historicon I had a chance to look at the Black Sun figures from Bob Murch.  These are Vietnam figures but with two pulp science fiction forces added.  One are these Deep Ones, for of Creature from the Black Lagoon looking.  The ones for Black Sun come with AK-47s.  Very similar Deep Ones are available in the Cthulu range.  I bought the starter box of those and added a bunch of extra German WWII weapons.  I was also told that the next pack of Black Sun Deep Ones will be armed with rifles, instead of AK-47s.

    More Deep Ones with WWII weapons. The starter packs come with the large Deep One on the rock.

    I have a giant alligator from Reaper that is crying to have a German infantry gun or heavy machine-gun mounted on its back!

    Deep Ones with AK-47s.

    If you value the lives of your pulp figures, tell them to stay away from the water, or a lot of little lead widows will be getting sad telegrams.